Fulton County Chairman

Our pick: John Eaves

You've got to feel sorry for Fulton County Chairman John Eaves. Georgia's most populous county is also one of its most fractured. It's also one of the state's most politically, racially, and economically diverse. In the northern part of the county, you have some residents calling for a split from Fulton. In the south, where there's greater economic inequality, residents are clamoring for additional services. Each county commissioner protects his/her respective turf, making for epic meetings and dysfunction. For some reason Eaves still wants the job. And we believe he deserves it.

It's not that we think Eaves is a deft politician who has the solutions to all the county's problems. In some cases, he'll readily acknowledge he doesn't — a rare thing to hear during election season. But he has a better chance of actually helping the county than his Republican challenger, Earl Cooper, who's untested and unproven in elected office.

If re-elected, Eaves says he'll focus on the ongoing metamorphosis of Grady Memorial Hospital, the vitally important public hospital that's fueled in part by county funds. He says he'll boost public safety by continuing progress he's made working with judges, prosecutors, and other public officials. With the commission's balance of power shifting to the county's more affluent northern part, Eaves is looking at ways to expand senior and library services in those areas — a tricky move that will surely rouse debate, considering the need is greater in south Fulton.

Finally, Eaves says he wants to right-size the county. Ninety percent of Fulton has been gobbled up by cities, which have taken over police, fire, and other services. The county will never go away, but it needs to become more efficient — a major accounting firm's audit could lead to some outsourcing. Fulton has changed and needs to get closer to its core mission of providing health and human services, housing inmates, and actually running the courts. Just hope Eaves can get it all done.

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